Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

Collaboration is King

Play nicely with others is a phrase we often hear in childhood, but recently that characteristic has become one of the most desired in business leaders.

While being cutthroat to get to the top used to be a common occurrence, today’s CEOs need to demonstrate a high degree of collaboration. However, getting to the top means competing with others for the position, and competition and collaboration can be conflicting ingredients in the recipe for success.

Competing cooperatively is the key, and a recent Wall Street Journal article explains how some strivers have done just that. For example, one of the most common problems among people vying for high-level positions occurs when one individual steals credit for another’s accomplishments. In this situation, an internal mentor should be called in to alert decision makers of the situation.

Another strategy for competitors is to agree to be positive and avoid denigrating one another. Positivity is a valued trait, especially in a leader. Some experts advise going beyond a positive attitude to actually support those competing for a position internally. Contenders for a position who demonstrate their ability to work with competitors and help the team attain success actively avoid any hint of sabotaging their rival. Doing so can forge strong connections that last throughout a career.

Discussion Questions

  1. In which specific ways can collegiality in the workplace be helpful to an individual’s career?
  2. Can you think of reasons for rivals to support one another?
  3. Why is taking credit for something you have not done a poor long-term strategy for success?

 

 

 

Has a New Corporate Ethos Arrived?

For decades, corporate boardrooms worked under the Chicago School of Economics mantra that an organization’s sole mission was to maximize shareholders’ profits. But last August, 181 CEOs from some of the most powerful companies in America decided that Milton Friedman’s guiding principle was no longer acceptable.

At a thinktank called the Business Roundtable, these executives issued a Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, which tossed out the philosophy of profit above all and called for a change of priority in American businesses. In 300 words, the statement rejects profit as the primary goal of an organization and instead embraces a broader purpose—one that creates value for customers, invests in employees, protects the environment, and fosters diversity and inclusion.

This shift away from shareholders as the only (or most important) stakeholder marks a major move toward accepting social responsibility as a core principle guiding business practices. The statement was signed by a cornucopia of America’s most influential executives including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Coca-Cola Company’s James Quincey, and Fox Corporation’s Lachlan Murdoch, to name a few. Only seven members of the Roundtable did not sign the statement due concerns over its potential impact.

But the statement has critics, too. They denounce the notion that companies have an obligation beyond making profits for shareholders and say changes should come from investors, not CEOs.

The statement is not a doctrine; businesses are not being forced to adopt its tenets. But should they?

Discussion

  1. Should the people who invest in a company (stockholders) be the primary focus of a business?
  2. Why do you think the business leaders who signed the statement added a commitment to “all our shareholders,” including suppliers and communities, as well as shareholders?
  3. Do you think all businesses should be accountable to society at large?

 

 

 

Fake Testimonial Photos No Smiling Matter

Testimonials—written recommendations about a product by a user or celebrity—are among the most effective marketing tools. But a recent scandal has put the practice in the headlines, shedding light on some unethical behavior.

Many testimonials include a photograph of a happy customer who has purchased the product and wants to share his or her positive user experience. Advertisers claim that testimonials without photographs don’t offer the same level of persuasion as ones with photographs, so these images play a large part in the efficacy of the advertisement.

Such was the case for a product sold by uBiome, a lab-testing company. On the company website, a picture of a young, handsome, smiling man was accompanied by his purported testimonial that said uBiome’s product helped him learn that “a lot of my immunity issues stemmed from the lack of bacteria in my microbiome.”

The problem was that the same man’s face can be found on multiple websites with different names and marketing a variety of products and services. An investigation revealed that the uBiome photograph was actually a stock image taken from Shutterstock.com, although the testimonial itself came from a customer account page or a survey. Government rules require that endorsements feature actual customers unless the advertising company reveals where the substitute image was obtained.  That was not, however, what uBiome did. Subsequently, the company’s co-founders and co-chief executives were placed on administrative leave.

Using a stock photo the way uBiome did is quicker and easier than tracking down customers and obtaining permission to use their photos. But just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s legal.

Discussion

  1. Why is it unethical to use a fake photo in a testimonial?
  2. Who should be held responsible for such lapses—the marketing manager, advertising director, CEO or all?
  3. Would you be more likely to use a product after reading a testimonial with a photo or without a photo?